The Lexus 600h L hybrid car is Lexus’s attempt at cornering the luxury full-size sedan market and it’s a hybrid to boot. Let’s see what the automotive press had to say about it.
Many reviewers note the extremity of the noiseless, vibrationless ride that this car offers. MotorTrend speaks of Lexus’s “single-minded pursuit of isolating passengers from the outside world.” They continue: “The automaker says the car is one of the quietest automobiles ever built, and we have no reason to doubt that claim.”
But MotorTrend wasn’t impressed by the powertrain. It lacks the speed and power of its competitors, yet doesn’t deliver enough fuel efficiency to really compensate for that. The reviewer says: “The L in the LS 600h L stands for Lagging, as in lagging behind the competition.” The 600h L delivered 20 MPG in combined city/highway driving during testing.
They go on to say: “Throttle response is actually very good, making the car seem faster than it is, though on a couple occasions, the brakes were more forceful than expected.” They say that the steering feels disconnected, but not bad for a hybrid.
About the luxury specs. MotorTrend tested a model with the Executive Class Seating Package, which they describe as a great place to spend some time:
“The right rear seat includes an ottoman, butterfly rear headrests, a rear air purifier, extra air ducts for the backseat passengers, a rear-seat entertainment system using a 9-inch screen, power rear window and rear windshield sunshades, heated and cooled rear seats with memory, and a rear passenger seat that reclines up to 45 degrees and has an excellent massaging function.” That may sound absurd, but luxury is what this car is all about. MotorTrend also loved Lexus’s COMAND interior controls.
Two drawbacks noted were the 600h L’s parking-assist feature, which they hate, and the trunk’s “pitiful” cargo space.
MotorTrend makes a case that for $100,000, a buyer should never feel as if they have compromised. They liken the 600h L to a good idea in need of improvement.
Edmunds faults the 600h L’s curb-weight, 5,300 pounds, as its serious impediment to real feul efficiency, saying “the Lexus trails behind the 12-cylinder competition by a significant margin and offers little fuel economy benefit compared to the regular gas-only LS,” At $40,000 more than it’s gas-fired version, and only 1 MPG better in fuel efficiency, they say the price is hard to justify.
Like MotorTrend, they were impressed by the serenity of the interior, referring to it as “quiet as a crypt”, but unimpressed by the car’s performance.
So while the 600h L is well-appointed, Edmunds says: “As an automotive isolation chamber, the LS 600h is among the world’s best, but this is not a sport sedan by any stretch of the imagination.” They conclude that “For the eco-conscious buyer, BMW’s line of Active Hybrid sedans are priced well below this Lexus, as is the Mercedes-Benz S400 hybrid. For the performance-minded shopper, models like the BMW Alpina B7, Jaguar XJ and Porsche Panamera are all considerably better choices.”
Car and Driver reviewed the 600h L in 2008, when the model premiered. Except for a discontinued suspension system, the 600h L has remained the same since its debut.
They called this car “deceptively fast.” They say that “the sensation is one of eerie understatement as the 5220-pound sedan hurls itself down the road.”
About Lexus’s claim of V-12-like performance, C&D says “It’s hard to argue with that comparison unless the V-12 in question is in a Mercedes-Benz twin-turbo model, and in that instance, Lexus should expect to get its butt kicked.”
They call the 600h L “extraordinarily quiet, with particular attention paid to suppressing noise wherever it’s found.”
They also praise the pre-collision safety system. “This system detects objects, determines the likelihood of a collision, and then applies the brakes up to 40 percent of maximum force without any action by the driver.”
Car and Driver deemed that the performance and hybrid benefits justified the price.
KBB calls the 600h L “the epitome of the manufacturer’s efforts.”
They refer to the interior room as “vast” and say that gas mileage is “acceptable.”
KBB also says that “there’s little evidence of the hybrid powertrain. Drivers actually have to concentrate to discern whether the engine has shut off at a stoplight. Unlike most hybrids, which emit a slight “bump” when the gas engine starts, powertrain changes are nearly imperceptible in the big Lexus… Touch the gas pedal and the LS 600h L simply moves relentlessly and smoothly ahead as rapidly as the driver wishes – exhibiting little evidence that the gasoline engine is on or off.”
They also glow over the parking-assist feature, saying: “Admittedly, the novelty may wear off quickly, but it’s hard to keep your eyes off this Lexus as it parallel parks without human assistance.” In general they say the car has “enough gadgets to keep any techie grinning from ear to ear.”
So Kelley Blue Book sides with Car and Driver in giving the 600h L a positive review.